Making progress: Taking strides toward equality

Many things have changed for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community since the early years of the 20th century. For example, America’s first national gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, was founded on Nov. 11, 1950, by gay rights activist Harry Hay. His purpose was to provoke a change in public perception of homosexuality with hopes to eventually end discrimination, derision, prejudice and bigotry, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He was passionate about assimilating homosexuals into mainstream society and cultivating the notion of an ethical homosexual culture. October is LGBTQ awareness month, a time for reflection on what Hay has done for the LGBTQ community.
I strongly believe that Hay’s dreams of a better world in which homosexuals are accepted are finally becoming a reality. It has been four years since I fully came out of the “closet” as a gay Latino. This was back in 2010, when I first started college. Fear of not being accepted, or being disowned, were just some of the obstacles I was ready to face. However, to my surprise, everyone I came into contact with was more than supportive of my sexuality. However, some of my close friends who came out were not always supported by family or friends as I was. Now, as a confident gay Latino in my senior year of college, I have developed friendships with freshmen who seem to have overcome the homophobia that many of my gay friends came into contact with a few years back.
I have noticed that most, if not all, of the freshmen have not acted in a discriminatory way toward members of the LGBTQ community. It is amazing that people only a few years younger than me have a greater acceptance for the LGBTQ community than those my age. I think Hay would be ecstatic to know that his organization, which was founded to promote tolerance and acceptance, gave way to a society in which people of various characteristics, such as being part of the LGBTQ community, are not seen as different.
Of course, there is room for improvement and political movement. However, the LGBTQ community and its allies must not be discouraged by this. It is important to remember that nothing is ever perfect. The past struggles of the LGBTQ community have resulted in significant progress. There are countries and states that allow same-sex marriage and promote a hate-free zone. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and as of Oct. 23, 2013, New Jersey are states in our country that allow same-sex marriage. Movement is coming, not as soon as we would all like, but it is ultimately coming. A recent step forward was the downfall of The Defense of Marriage Act, which was seeking to recognize same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
When we are in our 50s, regardless of our sexual preference, our children will not believe that same-sex marriage was once illegal, just like our generation cannot believe that people of different races were not allowed to marry not so long ago. This month is about LGBTQ history and achievement. Regardless of your sexual preference, or your association with the LGTBQ community, we should all be proud that change is coming, and that discrimination and prejudice are surely making their way out of the United States.

-Walter Saravia
Senior English major

Printed in the 10/16/13 edition.

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